A little late to this, I know but this isn’t just a piece to tell you that he won the gold glove. The Gold Gloves have taken a lot of heat in their history and this year is no exception.
I wanted to take a look at whether LaRoche actually deserved the award. In short, the answer is yes. Taking a look at National League first basemen there is only one player ahead of LaRoche in both UZR and Defensive Runs Saved (DRS). That player is Joey Votto and Votto did it in a lot less playing time than LaRoche. So, was LaRoche the best defensive first baseman in the National League? No, he wasn’t. But Votto was hurt for most of the year, and most people hold that against somebody when voting for an award. Even though Votto did more in less playing time, you don’t necessarily want to give him the award. Kind of like when Raphael Palmeiro won the Gold Glove despite being a DH for most of the year.
If you take playing time into consideration, there are a lot of players who outperformed LaRoche based on UZR/150 (UZR but putting all players on an equal share of 150 games). However, UZR is limited in use in small samples and there is something to be said to be doing it for the entire season. Also, the award is usually given to the best defensive player who can also hit. That qualification doesn’t exclude Votto – but LaRoche did lead all major league first basemen in home runs.
This is definitely an honor for LaRoche and he did deserve consideration and recognition for his season. This also may play into his contract talks with the Nationals and having a Gold Glove is better than not having a Gold Glove so it will be interesting to see if anything can get done between the two sides.